Musings of an End-Game Pirate

At this point, I've forgotten how long it's been since the last world in Pirate101. Valencia Part 2 was exciting - don't get the wrong - but it wasn't as exciting as Marleybone and Aquila, which might have been one of the greatest expansions to come to either 101 game. These are the types of thoughts that float about in my head as I occasionally log on to Pirate101.

We've been ready for a new world for a long time. We - the Pirate101 community - have waited. Valencia Part 2 wasn't the conclusion anybody had in mind, including writer Sam Johnson, who's been working on Wizard101 recently instead. It was perhaps too familiar. Maybe our next world, likely Polaris, will be fresh enough to create a resurgence in the game. What went wrong? How did we get caught in this loop of needing more players so that the game gets more attention, but the game needing more attention to get more players? Lately, it seems like we haven't seen even the usual mount and pet additions to the Crown Shop.

Making the Rounds

Nowadays, I've finished questing one pirate through the entire game and another couple nearly through the whole thing. That's one thing I love about Pirate101 - besides its outstanding story and environments and gear - you can manage most of it on your own. What's there to do when one logs on?

I'll usually start with a quick check on my companions and pets. I have most of my non-essential companions tasked to earn gold or collect items I can sell. Once in awhile, I'll work on hatching new hybrids, but arranging meet-ups is tough, and the number of people still playing seems to be rather small... and shrinking, I imagine.

Once in awhile, I'll stop into the Bazaar, and look for high-level pet snacks. In Pirate101, mega snacks are not difficult to come by. These upper-level snacks also aren't as huge of a difference as in Wizard101. In Wizard, you might get 50 experience from a mega snack and only 10 from a good regular snack. In Pirate101, you can get up to 60 from mega snacks, but can buy snacks up to 32 experience from vendors and get them into the 40s from the Bazaar. The Bazaar might also have a set of Tiger Claws, a semi-rare weapon that is auctionable, or pet gear for training.

The other thing I tend to do is farm for a few of the missing unique boss gear items. I enjoy the Pirate101 battle system, especially as a Muskeeter, so playing through some content - any content - is nice. I used to do more PvP, but the meta has become so focused on busted strategies and the same tactics which favor past past Champions and others with extra time and money on their hands. The PvP scene, as I understand, has been whittled down to the same group of people playing month to month.

What Happened?

What exactly happened to Pirate101? Was it simply not as popular as people hoped? Now, Wizard gets regular updates and Pirate101 gets a new boss or two once a year, if even that. Where did we go wrong? It's difficult to say for sure, but we can assume that the game hasn't been as popular as expected. This takes me by surprise given that there are many elements of Pirate101 which I feel are superior to Wizard. I think the fact that the team has gone back and reworked so many aspects of their system and early game play is an indication that they're trying to get more players hooked from the beginning.

We can assess where we are now with a little more certainty. Pirate101 has essentially ceased major updates, perhaps waiting to see if the game gets additional players. Players have ceased playing in hopes of another major update. Thus we're stuck in this Catch 22, circular path. We did some new skeleton key bosses about six months ago, and Krampus this past Yuletide season, but that's about it.

I do wonder if we'll ever get additional Pirate content. While I was encouraged by the skeleton key bosses, I know that KingsIsle has combined their teams and had the lead Pirate101 writer working on Wizard101. With no team dedicated exclusively to the game, it's difficult to envision that it's a priority for them.

What Comes Next?

Where we go from here is anyone's guess. I've spent some time soloing various content and finding other ways to enjoy the available game experience, but I can't shake the memory of Marleybone and Aquila's release, and how magical those new skyways, locations, and stories were. I am hoping that some time down the line, we'll get to experience that again.

It has been the general consensus that Polaris is a strong contender for the next Pirate101 world. I've written about that a little bit here. Polaris would have all the advantages that Pirate101's Marleybone did. It's a familiar world for wizards, which could be a draw, but will also be totally new. Unlike Valencia Part 2, it's not a world with an aesthetic we've seen before. My advice? Go all in. Don't reuse a million and one models and environments from Wizard101. If KingsIsle wants Pirate101 to be successful, it will need the same care and attention as Wizard101. If Wizard only got a few new bosses every year, I imagine it wouldn't be as popular as it is either.

In the meantime, I'll still be logging in to check out any minor updates or just to train my pets and complete my companion tasks, all the while reminiscing on the glory days of Pirate101.

What are you up to in Pirate101 these days?

Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!

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